Didier Drogba will join Shanghai Shenhua next week, a source close to the long-running transfer saga has told , with the Chinese media reporting a two-year deal worth a whopping 14 million UK pounds is very close to being signed.
Just a couple of weeks ago, it looked as Shenhua’s efforts to capture the Ivorian striker had finally come to nothing, after Nicolas Anelka told the Chinese press he knew what Drogba’s decision over his future was, and that he would have “no regrets if Drogba didn’t join, because there are many other excellent players in the world.”
But the source told Drogba would in fact be joining Shenhua in the near future and that recent news stories to the contrary were PR stunts carried out at the behest of the club’s attention-seeking owner.
The source said, “It’s all hype, a smokescreen, orchestrated by Zhu Jun to keep the club in the headlines and divert attention from Shenhua’s lacking performances so far. I wouldn’t say Drogba was going to sign for Shenhua all along since all this started – but all I can say now is that he is coming and will most likely sign soon after the Champions League final.”
Rumours are currently circulating on China’s social networks with Shenhua fans describing Drogba as their club’s “savior” in waiting and saying they believe his signing is imminent.
The soonest Drogba could make his debut for Shenhua would be Shenhua’s match away to Qingdao on July 1. The Chinese Super League transfer window does not open until June 1, Drogba is likely to be involved in two Ivory Coast World Cup qualifiers on June 2 and 9, and then Chinese Super League goes on a break for a couple of weeks.
Shenhua are also believed to be interested in signing Spanish midfielder Marcos Senna, captain of Villareal, relegated from La Liga last weekend.
The Beijing Times reported that a “high level Shenhua official” said “The team needs to buy a strong midfielder in the summer transfer window, to deliver passes to Anelka and the new striker”.
Should Shenhua sign another new striker and midfielder, Mattieu Manset, who has been a total flop during his spell in the Chinese Super League, would return to Reading at the end of his loan in June, and another foreign player, most likely Bosnian midfielder Bozic, would also need to leave the club to create space on Shenhua’s foreign roster.
Ground: Hongkou Football Stadium, Hongkou District, Shanghai
Capacity: 35,000 (26,000 for football)
Honours: Chinese top-tier league champions: 1995
Chinese top-tier league runners-up: 1996, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2005, 2006, 2008
Chinese FA Cup winners: 1998
Chinese FA Cup runners up: 1995, 1997, 2015